Blur-Magic-Whip-Album-Cover
BlurThe Magic Whip
By: David Wexler
3 May 2015

 

1999 was the last time Blur released an album with the original lineup of Damon Albarn, Graham Coxon, Alex James & Dave Rowntree. Graham left the band previous to 2003’s Think Tank, so 2015’s The Magic Whip is 16 years in the making! Since 2009 the band has played shows and released a handful of new songs, but no confirmation of a new album.

In February of 2015 the announcement of a new album called The Magic Whip took everyone by complete surprise. On April 27th 2015, The Magic Whip was released.

As soon as the first track ‘Lonesome Street’ hits I am reminded how this band can write the catchiest of songs and completely uplift the listener. I was a casual fan of Blur in the 90’s but I didn’t fully appreciate them until I became a fan of Albarn’s other projects including Gorillaz and The Good, The Bad & The Queen, among others.

‘New World Towers’, the second track of the album shows the more relaxed side of the band, one of the many faces of Blur. ‘New World Towers’ reminded me of Albarn’s recently released solo album Everyday Robots, but still with that Blur touch.

‘Go Out’, which is the third track on the album is easily one of the standout tracks of The Magic Whip It’s somewhat schizophrenic and that’s one of the qualities of Blur I love the most. While Coxon’s guitar makes your head spin and James’s jumpy bass, Damon is singing about being a loner with a great catchy sing-a-long chorus of “To the Lo-oh-oh-ocal”. Once you hear it, you will be singing it for days.

‘Lonesome Street’ Music Video

The eye-catching album art for The Magic Whip is reflected in the fourth track, ‘Ice Cream Man’. Another standout track on the album combines the different styles of Damon’s vocals with the electronic feel that took on Blur’s last few albums and was the beginning of Gorillaz.

The album was primarily recorded in 2013 in Hong Kong after the band was supposed to appear at a music festival that ended up being cancelled, so they booked some studio time for 5 days and laid down the groundwork for The Magic Whip. You can hear the Eastern world influence on all of the tracks and get a sense of being a stranger in a foreign land.

Whip alternates between the faster side of blur to the calm side, the track ‘Thought I Was A Spaceman’ is a combination of both. As a spaceship slowly builds up to an explosive launch, this other-worldly 6 minute track does the same. As the song comes to an end, the kickstart of ‘I Broadcast’ brings you back to the fun jumpy Blur. ‘I Broadcast’ is sure to be a killer song for the rowdy summer festival crowds Blur will be playing for in 2015.

Sometimes an album will lose steam halfway through, The Magic Whip is not one of those. ‘My Terracotta Heart’ ,’Ghost Ship’, ‘Pyongyang’ are meaty songs layered with rich musical and sonic texture that is extremely pleasing to the ears. By the time you get to the second-to-last track ‘Ong Ong’ you are ready to sing with Damon as he sings “I wanna be with you” over and over. The album ends with a slow guitar heavy track ‘Mirrorball’ as you mentally slow dance while the closing notes are played.

Some people may write this off as a reunion album or a shot at nostalgia for Blur, but it is really a return to what they always did so well. From the die-hards like myself to the casual fan or the beginner, this album is a perfectly crafted musical masterpiece. Some of these songs will be instantly hooked into your brain and you will be singing at the top of your lungs in no time.

For us in the states, we have had very little live performances from the band over the last 15 years, so here’s to hoping this album sparks a full U.S. tour in 2015.

Visit Blur: WEB | FACEBOOK | TWITTER | INSTAGRAM